Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thanks For The Good Times Blogger!

Thanks for the good times Blogger. It was a blast while it lasted. To all (two) of my readers The Ultimate Account Guy continues on Word Press. Please come over and keep supporting me there.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Problem With Business Today

I watched Food Inc. Friday night and found it very interesting and insightful. What I found so interesting though, wasn’t necessarily the point of the documentary. The point was to expose the food we eat and how it may not be the healthiest because of the way its grown/raised and brought to market. While that was eye opening, I believe this is only a symptom of a larger problem. That problem being the way those businesses are run and to a larger point the way business is run in general.

In an effort to cut costs and raise profits, our food has become a mass produced commodity. To a large degree most of the American economy has become the same thing. Gone are the days of creating the best product you can possibly create and if you are the best, making a nice profit. The end goal has become profit, which has sent a shock wave down the supply line. It doesn’t matter if you make the best product anymore. If you create a decent product at a cheap price, people will buy it, you will make big profits and the cycle continues.

This has slowly eroded the point of business in my eyes. The point of business shouldn’t be to make money. The point of business should be to create the best product/service possible. In doing that, your product/service will be the category leader and thus, profit will be created. Not only does this build trust with the consumer, it builds trust within the company and only makes a company stronger.

From an advertising perspective I think a change in the way businesses are run would improve advertising. When companies start cutting costs, one of the first places they go is advertising. But if the goal isn’t to be the cheapest, but to create the best product, you can invest in advertising, make it part of the product and in the end have a better product.

I understand the need to control costs and I know it sounds like I’m pushing advertising, but I’m not. A holistic change of business, shifting the almighty goal from profits to product greatness would alleviate the need for cut throat pricing, by giving the consumer a choice of greatness, not a choice of price.

Maybe this will happen naturally through the “open market”. The organic foods market is one market showing signs of people choosing the great product over the lower price. If more segments followed in their footsteps, I think business, as a whole would be improved.

What do you think about profits being the end goal for a business? Am I just being naive in thinking about the greater good?

-Dennis

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December Resolution. Why not?



While looking at the progress I’ve made with my 2009 resolutions I started thinking about what my New Years resolutions would be for 2010. I ran through the normal list, exercise more often, lose weight, blog more, etc. Then I thought for a minute. Why do I have to wait until January first to start? I don’t have to wait, so I’m not going to. I always get stuck in that nasty cycle of “I’ll start that tomorrow”, but not this time. My 2010 resolutions are starting December First 2009.

So my first, and most important December First resolution is to focus on improving my self as an account person. I know the title of my blog is The Ultimate Account Guy. I hope to one day become that, but for right now I’m focused on improving my skill set everyday.

Since today is day one, I want to know from all of my creative friends out there, what is the number one thing, in your mind, that makes an effective account person? It could be a positive attribute that I should follow or a negative attribute that I should avoid. Either way, I just want to know what is essential to being an effective account person in the minds of a creative team.

-Dennis

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reading Adventure

I try to read a lot and on a wide variety of subjects. I just finished The Long Tail and since this book has been out for a number of years now I won’t give you a review. I did however find it amazingly interesting to see how the elements Chris Anderson spoke about are coming true today. Also, I am very interested to see how advertising will reach people as they become more and more niche-centric. If you haven’t already read this book, I highly suggest you check it out.

The main reason for this post though, is to talk about my newest reading adventure. I’ve decided I need to read some classics. I’ve chosen The Republic and Moby Dick as my first two. Both books come recommended by people I highly respect and from what I hear, they are both massive reads.

I’m very excited by both of these books, which is very different from how I used to think about these types of books. I used to approach books of this type with dread. In the past (read – during school), I would be faced with having to read a book like this and just shut down. I wouldn’t even try to read it. Now, I’m taking this on under my own accord. I’m taking this as a sign of intellectual maturity, or at least the desire for intellectual maturity.

First up, I’m going to attack The Republic which was recommended to me by Jim Mitchem . I’m going to take my time. Read it, digest it and hopefully understand enough to learn from it. And even if I don’t, I’m going to be happy in the effort of doing something I’ve never done before.

So my question to you is, what is the best way to approach a book like this? Have you read The Republic, any advice on my adventure?

- Dennis

Full Disclosure – I have no affiliation with the authors of these books or the publishers.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A New Agency, With A New Model



Crowdsourcing has been a hot topic recently. Whether you are for or against crowdsourcing, you can’t deny the impact it is having on the advertising world. That impact has led to the first crowdsource driven agency, Victors & Spoils.

At the core of this agency is the “goal to provide businesses with a better way to solve their marketing, advertising and product-design problems by engaging the world’s most talented creatives.” The agency will consist of in house talent (the overseers) as well as the collaborative talent that will be providing the crowdsourced ideas. You can check out the details on their website and follow them on twitter @victorsnspoils.

Personally, I like the idea of crowdsourcing. I think there are limitations built into it, but at the same time the benefits could outweigh those limitations. I especially like this group’s (Evan Fry, John Winsor and Claudia Batten) adventurous attitude in taking a controversial idea and building an agency around it.

Advertising is an organic being of sorts. It is always changing, learning and growing. Crowdsourcing is a direction that advertising is, if not moving toward, at least showing some interest in. Taking the chance and exploring this direction will undoubtedly lead to some great work. Whether or not it is sustainable is still to be determined. Ultimately only time will tell how this experiment pans out. But I for one can’t wait to see the work that develops and where this idea goes.

What do you think about crowdsourcing? Is this the future of advertising or just a passing fad?

-Dennis

P.S. Where is the account guy crowdsourcing? How come we don’t get any love?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sheer Joy



When I first saw this video it gave me goose bumps. The joy the players are experiencing led me to send out a tweet proclaiming, “This is what college football is all about”. I then went for a run and during my run I realized this moment caught on camera is so much more than a great football moment.

This is a moment that everyone should experience. It reaches beyond sports. It’s a moment shared with your kids when they get an A on a test. It’s a celebration after a promotion or winning an unexpected account. It’s finding those moments in life when you get to be David and slay your Goliath. Most importantly it’s a moment that I don’t see very often outside of the sports world. You see athletes celebrate after they win a big game or a championship. But you never see a group of people in suits jumping up and down.

This could be for any number of reasons. It’s not professional; it’s not practical (being in suits and all), celebrating is childish, the list goes on and on. I think the real reason is very few people care about their career as much as these young men care about football. Maybe if we all cared about our jobs as much as they did, we would celebrate a little more.

So my question to you is, when was the last time you celebrated like the Iowa State Cyclones? Is it appropriate to celebrate like that as an “adult”?

-Dennis

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fear – Motivator or Restrictor?


I recently watched the new Tyson documentary. Besides being an interesting take on a very complex individual, it revealed a side of Tyson I had never seen before. The big theme throughout the film was fear. Early in his career, Tyson used fear as a motivator. He was afraid of being embarrassed. He feared embarrassing himself in front of millions of people by losing a fight. So he used that fear to push himself to train harder.

Later in his career, after his release from jail for a rape conviction, fear changed for him. He was no longer afraid of losing or being embarrassed. He was afraid of being betrayed by those closest to him. He no longer trusted anyone after his (in his mind, false) rape conviction. The fear that once molded him into one of the badest men in the world, now became his demise.

This got me thinking about fear and how it affects everything. Everyone has fears that shape their lives. Fear of commitment, fear of moving to a new city, fear of moving to a new job, fear of taking a risk, fear of not taking a risk; you name it, someone has a fear of it. The thing I find most interesting is the difference between people who use fear as a motivator and people who allow their fears to hold them back.

Fear plays a big roll in business. The good companies seem to use fear as a motivator to try new things. Attacking the competition or going after a new target market, could open your product to a new line of consumers. Going with the new campaign, even though it might alienate a few members of your current customer base, takes a healthy control of fear. And if the new campaign is a total flop, using that fear to learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again is key to managing fear in the future.

So my question to you is how do you handle fear? Do you use your personal fear to make you better? Do you use the fears of your clients to make them better?

-Dennis

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Car Dealer Commercial That's Worth Watching

Stevinson Automotive takes the traditional car dealer ad and puts it on its head. They prove a car dealership commercial doesn’t have to scream deals at the consumer to get their point across. Stevinson uses a combination of the three commercials below to inform the consumer of a different car buying experience. One in which you don’t to feel like you are being taken advantage of. One in which you don’t have to dread going to the dealership and dealing with shark like salesmen.



The commercials use humorous situations to convey the main idea that car dealerships don’t have to be scary. They also do a great job of integrating useful brand-building information along with the humor. The commercial above informs the consumer that Stevinson Auto has been around for 47 years. That builds trust with the consumer. If they’ve been around for 47 years they must be doing something right.



The above commercial focuses on used cars and the fact that Stevinson Auto only sells car fax certified used vehicles. Again, trust is developed through the sense of humor and facts within this commercial.



This final commercial does a great job of communicating brand-building elements to the consumer. The use of the “diabolical theme music” and counter points of honesty, allow the consumer to both enjoy the commercial and raises the Stevinson brand in their mind.

In my mind these commercials do a great job both together and separately. They mix humor and important brand building elements to differentiate themselves from the rest of the car dealerships and from the idea of a car dealership in the mind of the consumer.

What do you think about these commercials? What other industries with negative connotations could use an approach like this?

-Dennis

Monday, October 5, 2009

Baked In Follows Its Own Advice


I just finished Baked In by Alex Bogusky and John Winsor and I was thoroughly impressed with the book. Not only does the book bring up a very important subject in the way products are designed, it also follows its own advice by baking in features that will help this book grow and live beyond its pages. It does all of this in a streamlined, no fluff set up that allows the reader to dig into the book, extract useful information and apply it to his or her own situation.

Baking In

The main idea behind Baked In is integrating marketing into the design of your products. This integration allows the product and the marketing to tell the same story. This idea seems simple enough but its something that rarely happens. The book shows real life examples of companies that do a fantastic job of integrating the two, as well as companies that missed this crucial step.

In addition to the real life examples, the book also goes through “28 rules for baking in”. The rule I find most interesting is “Become A Silo Jumper”. To me, this step seems to be the most integral piece to the baking in puzzle and at the same time seems the hardest to achieve. If your company, like most companies, has different departments going about their days without interacting with each other, an integrated product is very hard to develop. At the same time, breaking down those barriers can be very hard and even dangerous to your job. This section gives a good “recipe” on how to jump the “silos” and make your company a true team.

Do As I Say, And As I Do

Remember when your mother would use the famous “do as I say, not as I do” trick on you. Well, this book is following the motto of “do as I say, and as I do”. Not only does it preach baking in, it actually does it. Throughout the book, the authors have included Twitter hash tags to keep the conversation going beyond the book, into the Twiterverse and their blog. This is a great way to bake conversation and word of mouth directly into the book. Instead of having readers from all over the world having haphazard conversations all over the web, the predetermined hash tags and blog allow readers to interact with the book and with each other. This will eventually lead to interesting and thought provoking conversations that will only strengthen the ideas within this book.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. The ideas within it make sense for a changing economy and changing consumers. With all of the different avenues that consumers have to research a product today, having a consistent and meaningful message becomes all the more important. This book gives you tools on how to accomplish that very thing.

What did you think about this book? Do you have any Baked In stories to share?

- Dennis

Full Disclosure – I have no affiliation with the author of this book or the publisher.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Syracuse Gives Game Ball To The Fans

Syracuse as a football team has struggled to win games recently. As no surprise to anyone, they have also struggled to get fans into their stadium on game day. In an effort to build excitement around their new head coach, they are reaching out to their fans in a unique way.



Through this video, Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone gives the game ball to the Syracuse fans after their last second 37-34 win over Northwestern. I like this both from an advertising and a fans perspective.

As an Account Executive, I like the timeliness and relevance of the communication. I found this video, posted on the SU athletics YouTube page, two days after the game. This shows me they are actively planning and capturing natural, enthusiastic moments that come from within the brand. They don’t need to create a false story to gain interest.

As a fan (I mean the general fan, I don’t actually cheer for Syracuse athletics) this video shows me that Syracuse football is dedicated to and appreciative of the excitement their fans bring to a game. Especially in a smaller dome like the one Syracuse plays in, the fans can have an impact on the game. It’s refreshing for a fan to feel like they are a part of the team, instead of just being a money sign sitting in a seat.

What do you think about this video? What other brands use organic, exciting moments that come from within their organization to garner excitement?

- Dennis

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dex Knows How To Make A Good Commercial

This Dex Knows commercial has been around for a number of months now and every time I see it I’m reminded how effective it is. The messaging is simple and conveyed in a humorous and memorable fashion. This is the perfect example of an effective commercial in my mind. Not only do you get the point the advertiser is trying to make, the addition of humor makes it stick.



What do you think about this commercial? What is the key to an effective commercial for you?

- Dennis

Monday, September 14, 2009

Missed Details Bother Me

This Heineken Light commercial has been all over sports programs recently. It’s a pretty good commercial. It makes me remember Heineken Light and gives me a chance to look at Eva Longoria. These are two great things. At the very end of the commercial though, they loose lose me. When the waitress brings the two gentlemen their Heineken Lights, she brings them glass bottles. Not one stadium, arena or amphitheater in the US, serves any kind of beer in a glass bottle.



I don’t know why this gets under my skin so much. It doesn’t distract from the communication, but for some reason I can’t get past it. Is it because it takes something away from the authenticity?

It’s a beer commercial. They are not generally based in reality. The idea that these guys would be moved down to courtside seats isn’t based in reality, but that part doesn’t bother me.

Am I crazy for letting this bother me? Does this oversight make it a bad commercial? Have you seen other mistakes in commercials that ruin it for you?

- Dennis

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Brink’s New Target Audience

For years Brink’s Home Security (or now Broadview) has had the same feel to their commercials. As real and frightening as it is, they have always shown a family being attacked. Whether it is the wife at home alone, the wife with the kids, the kids home alone or the entire family, Brink’s has been targeting the family market. With this newest commercial, Brink’s is going after a different market, the single female market.



My focus of this post is not the commercial itself. The commercial does a fine job of depicting a female preparing for a first date when a man dressed in the burglar uniform smashes a sliding glass door in an attempt to get it. The burglar is quickly scared away by the sound of the Brink’s Home Security System. Besides the avalanche of information that is thrown in at the end, I think the commercial does a good job of conveying the main idea Brink’s is seeking.

My goal for this post is to analyze the switch in target markets. The switch seems like a natural one. Women are seen by society as being more vulnerable to an attack of this type, making the visual images of this stick in the mind of the consumer even more. But I wonder what brought on this switch in focus from families to single women. Does it have to do with more women living alone because of the increase in divorce? Does it have to do with people delaying marriage and therefore more women living alone, or with female roommates? Does Brink’s get any type of halo effect from this? Does it carry over from single women, to families or even the elderly?

I guess this post is more of a question than anything else. I like the move on Brink’s behalf to show the vulnerability of a single woman and the safety and protection that a Brink’s Home Security System provides.

What do you think about this commercial? Does the switch in target markets or branching off of target markets help Brinks in your mind?

- Dennis

Monday, July 27, 2009

Brain Rules - A Book Review

I found Brain Rules by John Medina through my Twitter feed. I was skeptical at first. How could a book about the brain be any use to me? I decided to check out the website and was instantly turned. The website made me believe the book would provide an interesting perspective on the brain and how it is used in the business world. I was still a little unsure on whether the book would make any sense to me or be useful.

I could not have been more wrong. The book, while technical in spots, is written in a very manageable style. The technical aspects are explained thoroughly and in such a way, you are actually left looking for a more in depth explanation. The information in the book, both from an advertising, and human perspective, is amazingly interesting. Every chapter offered another “wow” moment. So many things about the brain I never knew, explained so thoughtfully made me a huge fan of this book.

Below I’ve singled out some chapters and sections I found amazingly interesting and useful not only in advertising but business in general.

Chapter 1 – Exercise
- Exercise improves brain function including creativity.
- Agencies creative departments have always been different maybe treadmills would fit well.

Chapter 4 – Attention
- ECS – Emotionally Competent Stimulus – VW Crash commercial example.
- Why Mac’s 1984 ad worked.
- The brain remembers emotional aspects better than others.

Chapter 5 – Short Term Memory
- Most events that predict learning happen quickly. In the first two seconds of exposure.
- Environment has a major impact on learning.

Chapter 6 – Long Tern Memory
- New information given gradually and repeated improves long-term memory.

Chapter 7 – Sleep
- The amount of sleep a person needs will vary by person.
- An afternoon nap may be a biological urge felt by most of the world.

Chapter 9 – Sensory Integration
- Our senses work together, which means more learning is aided by stimulating multiple sense at once.
- PowerPoint presentations are great tools, if done properly.

Chapter 10 – Vision
- Vision is our most dominate sense.
- Learning and remembering is done best through visual mediums.

Chapter 12 – Exploration
- Humans are natural explorers. Providing an outlet for this tendency is a good thing.

I found this last chapter on exploration to be the most meaningful to me and my career in advertising. It proved to me that consumers are naturally inquisitive and they do not need to have information crammed down their throats. If a consumer is in the market for your product the best thing you can do is present the benefits and supporting information in an interesting manor and support their decision making process.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. Even the parts that had no direct relevance to advertising or business provided new and interesting information I didn’t know. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to understand how people receive and analyze advertising.

If you’d like to find out more about the book, visit the website. Or if you’ve seen enough and want to buy it, you can find it here - Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

Has anyone else read this book or one like it? What did you think? What did you take from it and apply to your craft?

- Dennis

Full Disclosure – I have no affiliation with the author of this book or the publisher. The text link to the book on Amazon is an affiliate link.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An Open Letter To Under Armour

Under Armour, I am your biggest fan. I love your product, follow you on Facebook and Twitter, and I am an overall ambassador for your brand. I have recently decided to get back into shape, which got me thinking. Where is your customer engagement?

There is no community aspect to Under Armour. Your Facebook and Twitter accounts are used as broadcast mediums. Your website is great for shopping. It is easy to navigate and intuitive, but there is no place for me to trade training stories with your other customers.

Imagine if you started a conversation with your followers on Twitter or Facebook? What would happen to your brand if you engaged your fans? If you made your customers feel like they are a part of something bigger. If Under Armour were more than just amazingly comfortable and functional gear for athletes you would have a tidal wave of excitement from your fans.

Use Twitter to send out an update on your newest technology breakthrough, not to send me a 10% of coupon. I can get that same 10% from your website before I check out. Take the honor of being invited directly in front of my face, in a preferential position and use it to engage me.

Use your website as place for me and other Under Armour faithful to chat, exchange stories and build a relationship with each other and your brand. Right now I only go to your website when I want to by something. If I was going to your site daily to talk on a message board, I may be more likely to buy more gear.

Personally, I don’t care if all you did was sell gear. I love your product so much I would buy it with or without any changes. However most people don’t feel the same way I do. Building a community and giving current and potential customers something beyond your products can do nothing but help your brand.

-Dennis

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Perfectly Targeted Natural Light Commercial

I saw this commercial over the weekend and I was immediately hit with a flashback. I could smell the aroma of stale, three day old beer. The image of waking up to roommates and other people I didn’t know sleeping on the floor. I was brought back to a simpler time in my life. A time when a 12 pack of Natural Light was dinner on a Friday night. A time when I would sit on the couch and have beers thrown at me so I didn’t have to get up. As I watched this commercial I felt like they had rewound my college life and put it on TV.



Natural Light has put a spot light on their target audience with this commercial. There are no fancy parties, no glasses of wine, there isn’t even a bottle of beer in this commercial. Natural Light in a can is joke to many people. To their target audience a Natty Light in a can is an inexpensive, crisp, clean tasting night with your friends. You don’t have to worry about which fork to use, or which glass in front of you is for water. You sit back and enjoy the beer and your friends.

The natapult is a great extension of the emotional connection formed by the commercial. I can remember multiple times when I didn’t want to get up at a party or while watching a football game because I knew my seat would be stolen while I grabbed another beer or some more chips. This commercial puts a humorous yet realistic spin on a situation the target audience can relate to.

This commercial is perfectly targeted for the Natural Light audience. I was captured the second the commercial came on TV. However, it is very heavy on the emotional connection. Having a rational connection mixed in may have made the commercial a little stronger for a viewer who doesn’t have the strong connection to the product that I do.

What do you think about this commercial? Does it have the same effect on someone who doesn’t have a strong previous connection with the brand?

-Dennis

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Nationwide Insurance iPhone App Commercial Misplaced

Recently Nationwide Insurance has been running a commercial on TV touting its car accident iPhone app and everything it can do. I think this app is a great creation. It brands Nationwide. It shows their current customers that they care enough to go the extra mile and create something specifically for them. It also shows prospective customers that they have something other insurance companies don’t. I just don’t understand why they would spend the money to make and air an entire TV commercial dedicated to this app.

I’m not against TV. I think TV advertising has its place and will for a long time. But it should speak to the people watching TV. Most people watching TV don’t have an iPhone or interest in the technology. I think Nationwide would have been better suited with a rational benefit to draw in a wider swath of people and drive them to their website. Once you get them to the website, you can drive people interested in the iPhone and the app to a special section that explains everything available in the app. By doing this you don’t exclude the non iPhone bunch right off the bat.

As a complement to the new TV commercial, Nationwide could run banners on technology centered websites that would be more likely to have people who are interested in an iPhone app. This way the TV commercial reaches a wider audience while still appealing to technology fans by driving them to the website. At the same time they are more focused with their app centered advertising instead of wasting that media space.

You can check out the spot here.

What do you think about this TV spot? Is it a good use of TV space?

-Dennis

Friday, June 12, 2009

Local Friday – Neighborhood Traffic Calming by The City of Greeley

For this week’s Local Friday post I am focusing on a great local commercial done by the City of Greeley to support their Neighborhood Traffic Calming program. For the most part, public service type commercials aren’t very interesting and quickly forgotten. This commercial is different. It is a great commercial because it links the emotional and rational benefits of the commercial for an informative and lasting impression on the viewer.

The goal of this program is to “enhance neighborhood livability and sense of community by reducing excessive speeding and excessive vehicle volumes on local service streets”. This is a great goal benefitting entire communities at no cost to the citizens.



The commercial is effective because it starts out by building a relationship between the mother/son and the viewer. Almost everyone can put themselves into the mother’s shoes. You are busy, trying to get to your next task while changing a radio station or taking something out the glove box. When the second boy runs out in front of the car, fear and worry are used as a hook to keep the viewer focused on the commercial. Once the viewer is sucked in, the public service announcement is given.

This style of building the anticipation then delivering the message to the viewer works better than coming on to the screen and talking about the message. It’s very easy to tune out a message when you have no connection to it. By building an emotional benefit into the beginning of the spot, the rational benefit is more impactful.

What do you think about this commercial? Do public service style commercials get their point across?

-Dennis

Check out the Neighborhood Traffic Calming program here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

GMC Sierra's Resume Has One Hole

As parent company GM is in the midst of pulling itself out of bankruptcy, they have created a very effective commercial for the GMC Sierra. This commercial does a great job of combining emotional and rational events from their history. As each notch in their “resume” rolls by on screen the viewer is shown the great efforts that GMC has been a part of. Unfortunately GMC only focuses on the past and not where they are going.



The great part of this commercial is the emotional and rational connection that is made by showing all of the great moments that GMC has been a part of. Each event not only shows the toughness and ruggedness that was needed to complete the project, it is also an iconic memory in the building of this country. This commercial shows that when you buy a GMC Sierra not only are you buying a tough, dependable truck, you are also buying a piece of American history.

The only draw back to this commercial is that they only focus on the past. While GM is trying to rework its business and make it a profitable company once again, we are reinded that their past is what has them in this position right now. I would have liked to see them say something about the future. What are they doing to the new Sierra to make it a better truck for the future? How will I know that this Sierra is better than the previous ones that no one was buying?

Overall this is a good commercial that does a good job of capitalizing on the impressive past of GMC. To put it over the top I would have liked to see something about the future of GMC and how the new Sierra will be better than its predecessor.

What do you think about this commercial? How could they have made it better?

-Dennis

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Old School Thursday - Lil' Penny

In honor of the Lebron James/Kobe Bryant Nike commercials being made irrelevant by the Orland Magic knocking the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the playoffs, I thought I would take a look at the original Nike puppet commercial, Lil’ Penny. These series of commercials were full of star power and humor. While they were light on in your face promotion of Nike products, they stuck in the minds of the target audience. Very similar to the Lebron/Kobe commercials, Nike benefits from attaching their logo to the star power of the people/puppets in their commercials.



This commercial was everything I wanted when I was 10 years old. Penny Hardaway was a great basketball player, had a hilarious side kick constantly cracking jokes, beautiful women and most importantly the hottest shoes around. I remember running around the playground yelling “the secret service couldn’t guard me” as I made a lay up. Now that I look at it from an advertising perspective these commercials did a great job of creating an emotional connection. There isn’t a very big rational connection because they don’t need one. The emotional connection was strong enough to make me want to be Penny and wear his shoes.



The Lebron/Kobe commercials are very similar to the Lil’ Penny originals. These commercials also rely on the emotional connection over the rational. The commercial doesn’t contain any technology or value messages that give you a reason to buy Nike products. They are relying on that same emotional connection they made with me when I was 10 years old. I can imagine a 10-year-old kid running around a playground in Cleveland yelling “playoffs” as he puts up jumpers. It doesn’t matter that the only shoe shown in the entire commercial is a puppet shoe. The consumer connects Nike, Lebron and Kobe together in their memory. Not because Nike reminds the consumer of Lebron and Kobe, because Lebron and Kobe reminds the consumer of Nike.

I’ve said before, that in down economic times, companies need to give consumers a rational benefit, be it value or other, if they expect someone to spend the money they are so dearly holding on to. These commercials don’t do that so I don’t think they are exceptional commercials for this current economy. If Nike is willing to ride out this down time and focus on the emotional connection with their consumers, these commercials do a great job of that.

As for the Lil’ Penny commercials, they will forever be ingrained in my mind as a fond memory from my childhood and as an argument in favor of a strong emotional connection lasting a long time.

What do you think about these commercials? Does the emotional connection work like it did with me?

-Dennis

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Third Party Frenzy

During economic down times consumers become skeptical of companies selling to them. As a counter to this protectionist way of thinking two companies have gone to third party companies to back up their claims and supply extra credibility. They combine the reputation of the third party companies with a simple to understand main idea. By doing this they lower the iron curtain of skepticism and allow the consumer to see the benefits that are being offered.



This T-Mobile commercial has a simple premise. People are paying too much for their cell phones. They wrap the message in comedic packaging with the story of sending auditors to people’s houses to show them how much they are over spending. And when that doesn’t work, they send in their beautiful spokesperson. The comedic topping to the commercial does a nice job of making you smile, but the main idea is what really sticks with you. T-Mobile will save you money and you don’t have to listen to us, check out billshrink.com for proof.



The Honda commercial works off the same idea as the T-Mobile commercial. They give you the reasons why people buy Honda and stay with Honda. They focus on rational reasons to buy a Honda which work well during down economic times. But since they are so heavy on rational reasons they need some back up to prove they are a good as they say they are. They decided to go with Edmunds.com to prove their story. This third party reinforcement is even a little stronger than T-Mobile’s because Edmunds to more well know and will grab the attention of the consumer easier.

Both of these companies are saying, we have a better product and will save you money and we can prove it. This is a very strong message in a time like this.

What do you think about these spots? Does it matter which third party proof a company uses if they choose to go this route?

-Dennis

Friday, May 29, 2009

Local Fridays - 34 Express Off The Rails

I’m starting a new weekly project to bring you the best and worst of local advertising that I find. Local advertising is a large part of the advertising world and goes largely unrepresented in the realm of advertising blogs for the most part. Recently there have been some local ads that have grabbed national attention, so I decided more local advertising needs to be discussed and recognized. We all know that local advertising can at times be very bad. My goal with this weekly project is to highlight not only the bad work that is done but also the good work.

So for the first ever Local Fridays post, I’m going to talk about this out of home bus ad I saw the other day. The program the ad is advertising is great. The bus goes from Greeley to Loveland, which would be nearly impossible if you didn’t have a car and since Loveland has a lot more to offer than Greeley, I’m sure it’s a very useful bus route. So I understand the desire to promote this route and get the word out. What I don’t understand is why they decided to use a pointless headline and why the placement of this ad is on the back of a bus.

The headline “Transfers are your friend!” is utterly confusing to me. I know transfers are good because they save you money, but what does that tell me about this special route? Everyone who rides a bus knows that, and since your target audience is people that ride buses, you should focus on how this new route will help improve their day instead of feeding old information. The sub-header does a great job of explaining what the route does and makes the ad at least decent. A headline that grabbed a person’s attention and gave them some idea of the route would have a much bigger impact.

My second beef with this ad is the placement of it. Now I’m going to preface this argument by saying that this is the only version of this ad that I’ve seen and I haven’t inspected all of the buses around town, but this is the last place I would want this ad placed. This ad is speaking to people who ride buses, letting them know about a bus route. Why in the world would you place it on the back of a bus? The only people that are looking at the back of a bus are people in cars like me. This ad would be much more effective if it was placed at a bus stop, or inside of the bus. It could even be placed as a flyer inside of the bus. That way people who are actually going to use this route, will be able to see it. The only way a bus patron will see this ad is if they are looking at the back of the bus while it pulls away. Even then the headline is so confusing, they wouldn’t have enough time to figure it out before the bus was gone.

Over all, this ad is a failure in my mind. The headline makes the entire thing confusing and the placement is just wrong. What do you think about this ad? How would you have done it differently?

-Dennis

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Old School Thursday – Fritos

For this week’s Old School Thursday I found a dandy of a commercial from Fritos in 1978. This commercial has its strengths and of course one big draw back, but stands up pretty well to the test of time. It has a clear, simple message that conveys both a rational and emotional benefit of the product. It also has the classic jingle that was all the rage during this time.



The core of this commercial would hold up even now because it shows the product solving a problem. The problem is lunch is boring, so they start the commercial with a boy playing in his soup instead of enjoying his lunch. Fritos are introduced and all of a sudden lunch is fun. The “good corn taste” is a godsend for a mother with a son that just doesn’t want to eat his lunch. The rational portion of the mother is happy because her son is eating lunch and getting the energy he needs. The emotional portion of the mother is also happy because her son has perked up and is actually enjoying his lunch.

The main draw back to this commercial is the jingle. The jingle doesn’t add anything to the commercial. It is basically used to take up space where the boy or an off camera mother figure would be speaking. All of the rational benefits of Fritos are delivered by the voice over. You could just as easily remove the jingle, add in a couple lines of copy for the boy and run this spot today. You can’t blame them for using a jingle though, jingles dominated advertising at the time. Today the only jingles that work are ones that are used satirically and in small doses.

Overall this is a quality commercial that I think stands up through time. The rational and emotional benefits are still relevant today. The only changes needed to make it a modern commercial would be to remove the jingle and add a line about Fritos only having three ingredients to capture a sliver of health factor.

What do you think about this commercial? Does it stand up to the test of time?

-Dennis

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Quiznos Email Stumble

Yesterday I received an email from Quiznos with a couple of coupons, which I quickly ignored and focused on the main portion of the email. The email was set up well with the main tie in above the fold and strategically it does a good job of tying into the current TV spot. The execution of the other hand left me confused and sad.

I don’t particularly care for the strategy behind the TV commercial with the creepy talking stove. I do have to give them credit for continuing it and bringing into this personalized email. Immediately I tie the stove to the TV commercial and there is a shared benefit. Then I saw the speech bubble and laughed. The speech bubble is entirely too large for the amount of type that fills it. The attempt at personalization is awful. Worst of all, this portion of the email doesn’t offer me anything new.

I understand the need for a speech bubble but does it really need to take up so much space, while the type inside takes up so little of the bubble? During the TV commercial the oven speaks, and the only way to convey that in a stationary picture is to have a speech bubble. Makes perfect sense, but please don’t waste so much space. There is a time and place for white space and it can be used very effectively. This is not one of those times. The space would be much better used giving me a reason to get a Torpedo.

Personalizing an email is a good way to avoid the dreaded spam label. I had registered with Quiznos during a previous promotion, so they had my name and email. The logical thing to do is use my name in the speech bubble as the oven is talking to me. But if you are trying to talk to me like we are friends, don’t assume things you don’t know are for sure. The oven says it is waiting for me to try its “greatest creation”. How does Quiznos know if I have tried the Torpedo or not? Maybe I have tried the Torpedo and loved it. They would be better off greeting me and moving on to tell me something about the sub.

Which brings me to the worst part of this email, which is that it does nothing. The email brings nothing new to my attention. There is a coupon which is a good start, but the coupon lies below the fold and if I wasn’t looking at this email as a critic, I would have closed it and moved on with my life. All the speech bubble does is repeat the price, which is already given to me at the top of the email and in the TV commercial. I am a captive audience right now. I’m sitting at my computer reading the email. Instead of going into why this sub is the oven’s “greatest creation”, they just tell me the same information I already know.

What do you think about this email? Does it do anything to make you want to get a Torpedo?

-Dennis

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dreyer’s Ice Cream After A 10K

Yesterday was the Bolder Boulder 10K race in Boulder, Colorado. I accompanied my fiancé as her cheering section and had a wonderful time. While wandering around the festivities during the race I stumbled upon a Dreyer’s Ice Cream exhibit. My first thought after seeing it was, why in the world would Dreyer’s Ice Cream spend the time and money to have a big display at a heath oriented event.

As I finished that thought, I noticed the huge crowd around the Dreyer’s exhibit. Energy drinks, health food, gym’s and home work out equipment companies all had exhibits around this one and by far Dreyer’s had the most people waiting in line for the free hand out. Granted, they were giving away some type of fruit bar so it probably had a little bit of health to it. What had just two minutes earlier seemed like a horrible strategic move was a counter intuitive gold mine.

After seeing the throngs of crowds bombarding the exhibit I stepped back and thought about this opportunity. There are 54,000 people taking part in the 10K run, plus who knows how many people that are there to support their friends and family that are running. That is a lot of people walking by and sampling their product.

Is this an earth shattering idea that Dreyer’s deserves excessive praise for? No, not really. It’s a simple idea, that is a little counter intuitive but also reveals a deeper human instinct to reward our selves. After running a 10K, I didn’t think anyone would be interested in an ice cream product. Dreyer’s new other wise and capitalized on it and they deserve kudos for doing so.

What do you think about this exhibit by Dreyer’s? What other examples like this have you seen?

-Dennis

Friday, May 22, 2009

Intel Flops With Its "Playground" Ad

In this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated I found a very confusing print ad placed by Intel. They got a great placement on the left side of the second page and then decided to vomit all over it. The ad conveys nothing to the consumer. The images of a soccer player and the scientist have no tie in. The copy at the bottom of the ad does nothing to give the reader any insights into what Intel is trying to say; it actually offends the reader.

There is a lot of discussion on what advertising should say and do for a company. The one thing that everyone agrees with is that advertising needs to convey some point to the reader. It has to say something about your company that the person reading will find interesting and remember. This ad just doesn’t do that. The only thing I learn by looking at the layout is that the scientist and the soccer player have different playgrounds. Yes, that is very apparent to everyone. Does this mean that Intel scientists can’t play soccer? Does this mean that soccer players can’t be scientist or even enjoy science as a hobby?



The separate images of the soccer player and Intel scientist have no tie in. There is nothing that connects the two images beyond the forced “playground” lines. They should have used a common element between the two to make the tie in. Have the soccer player calculating the precise angle needed to make the goal. Have the scientist figuring out some statistics to give a soccer team an advantage. Anything would have been better than throwing a soccer player on a field into the ad just to make it “relevant” to Sports Illustrated.

One of the best assets of print advertising in a magazine is the chance to capture a static audience. If you can develop an advertisement that is interesting and attention grabbing you have the consumer for as long as they want to stay on your page. You also have the ability to explain your product and its attributes in more detail. The body copy of this ad, while well written, doesn’t tell the reader anything. It tells the reader they have a lot of employees with PhDs and that those employees all share the language of math. That’s great, but what does it do for the reader? It doesn’t tell the reader how Intel will make their life better. It doesn’t tell the reader that Intel will make their computer run faster or their cell phone get better reception. There is nothing holding the reader to this ad. There is no benefit for the consumer.

Even the call to action is weak and meaningless. “Learn more at sponsorsoftomorrow.com”? Learn more? You didn’t tell the reader anything other than you have a lot of smart employees. You better have smart employees. What is the reader going to learn at this website? Is the reader going to learn more about your smart employees? After reading this entire print ad, the reader has no idea what Intel does or why they should be interested in what Intel does. They haven’t created a need or desire to go to this website.

I left this part for last because it melts my brain. A general rule of thumb is that it’s not a good idea to insult your audience. The line “your playground isn’t like our playground” is pretty harmless. Pointing out that the soccer player and the scientist “play” in different venues is fine. Then you combine it with the first line of the body copy and you feel insulted. “Needless to say, our people aren’t afraid to use a calculator”. Does that mean the soccer player is afraid of a calculator? Now some people might think I’m being a little nit picky with this, but if this ad offends even one person it is a horrible use of Intel’s advertising budget.

What do you think about this print ad? Have you ever seen another ad that does so little?

-Dennis

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Old School Thursday - The Original Mother Nature

Back in April I wrote a post about the different ways Mother Nature is used in two resent commercials. As a comment, someone suggested looking back at the Chiffon Margarine Mother Nature commercial. Since, this commercial ran before I was born and I had never seen it, I figured it would be perfect for Old School Thursday.



This commercial is interesting because they use Mother Nature as both the caring life giving figure as well as the vengeful fiend. In the beginning when Mother Nature believes she is eating her all naturally created butter, she’s happy and cheerful expunging the wonderful virtues of her creation. After she is told the butter she is enjoying so much is actually margarine, she becomes a vengeful, lightning throwing version of her previous self. The duality of Mother Nature in this commercial directly contradicts the singular character Mother Natures in the two recent spots.

It’s an interesting approach for Chiffon to take with the way this commercial is set up. While Mother Nature is enjoying the butter she is happy and cheerful. Once she realizes she has been tricked and is actually eating margarine she becomes angry. The natural progression of this commercial would have you believe that butter is good and margarine is bad, or that tricking Mother Nature is bad. I wouldn’t want to eat margarine after seeing this commercial. I would be afraid to offend Mother Nature. She may throw a lightning bolt at me too.

Even with the voiced over line about Chiffon Margarine being creamy and sweet enough to trick Mother Nature I still think it falls short. You get the payoff but are immediately distracted by what Mother Nature is going to do.

In my mind this commercial definitely did not withstand the test of time. What do you think about the commercial and the use of Mother Nature?

-Dennis

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stop Selling. Start Communicating.

I just listened to a great interview on Mixergy.com with Roy Spence of GSD&M. I highly recommend listening to the entire interview as there are numerous interesting and fascinating points made by Spence. The main point they discuss during the interview is the importance of having a purpose in you company and that that purpose is more than just making money. I think that same idea needs to be an important factor in advertising as well.

A lot of advertising, especially in a down economy like we are in now, trends toward the retail end of the advertising spectrum. I understand that advertising is used to help generate sales and sales leads for a company. But at the same time your company needs to speak to more than just sales in its advertising. Communicating your purpose beyond profits to the public makes the consumer feel like your company is a partner with them, not just a random person reaching into their pocket.

Everyone is aware that the end goal of a for profit organization is to make money. There is no issue with that. When a company puts profits in front of speaking to and building a relationship with their customer base they lose the confidence of the consumer. A company can have the best product in the world, but if all they do is shout at the consumer, they never develop the community feel that consumer’s desire. Instead of building a relationship with the consumer by conveying an emotional and practical benefit of the product, the hard sell method turns the consumer onto the defensive.

During the interview Andrew Warner and Roy Spence discuss Whole Foods. Whole Foods is a great example of a company putting its products and customers ahead of profits. They are actually able to charge more than the normal grocery store because they have a purpose beyond profits. Their purpose of selling high quality, organic foods forms a bond with the consumer. Because of the bond, the consumer doesn’t mind paying a little more than they normally would and because of that, they make a nice profit in the end.

What do you think about this idea of having a purpose beyond profits in both your business and advertising? What other companies do a good job of conveying a purpose outside of profits?

-Dennis

Monday, May 18, 2009

Companies Can Learn A Twitter Lesson From Athletes

In this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, Sean Gregory looks at Athletes and their use of Twitter. There are a lot of reasons why people like to follow their favorite athletes on Twitter. Some of them are funny. Some of them give insights into the game. Some of them give a more uncensored sound bite than they can on TV. But the reason most people follow their favorite athletes on Twitter is simple and more companies should follow their lead; Twitter forms a relationship between the athlete and the person.

Gregory sums it up perfectly by saying, “… messages of 140 characters or less – satisfies fans’ thirst for a closer connection to big-time athletes…” People want the behind the scenes scoop. They want to feel like they have some sort of connection with the guys they cheer for on TV. Companies are no different. People want to feel like they have a connection with the products they love and support.

This can be accomplished in any number of ways. A company can share new product improvements. They can share a solution to a problem that some customers have had. They can share unique ways to use their product. Anything that gets a dialogue flowing and makes the consumer feel like they are part of the machine and not the pavement being run over will foster a feeling of community and loyalty.

The most important key to developing a good Twitter following in my mind is to not “sell” to the people following you. Athletes generally don’t use Twitter as a sales avenue. Some promote their new sports drink sponsorship or may even promote an autograph-signing event. However they aren’t sending out 20% off coupons constantly. So, while a tweet like “I can’t think of a good reason why the Denver airport’s in friggin West Kansas”, from Barry Zitto, might not seem like an earth shattering statement to most people. To his followers, it’s exactly what they are looking for.

What do you think about Athletes using Twitter? Could companies use some of these techniques to build their follower base?

-Dennis

Friday, May 15, 2009

“Own Your C” Shows the Light and Dark Sides of Choices

Recently the “Own Your C” commercials have been running with pretty good frequency. The one I’ve noticed the most has a teenage boy throwing his “choices” into the air, only to have them boomerang back and attack him a year later. I thought this was a very good commercial. The strategy was simple and conveyed in a way that was interesting and memorable. After seeing this and the other complimentary commercials, I noticed a pattern. I noticed all of the commercials had a negative tone to them. All of the commercials spoke about negative choices coming back to haunt you. So the other day when I saw the “Tree” version I stopped and thought about which version was more effective.



The negative commercials have fear on their side. When the “Cs” come flying back at the teen that seems to be minding his own business, you get the feeling of fear and shock that the teen is feeling as he crawls into the phone booth for cover. You can picture yourself in that same situation. How many times, especially as a teenager, did you do something that wasn’t the best idea and got away with it? This commercial brings to light that you don’t always get away with it.

The positive commercial does something that is often overlooked when trying to speak to teenagers; it encourages good behavior instead of putting down bad behavior. The commercial depicts a girl nurturing her “C” as it grows into a tall, strong tree. Not only does the tree grow big and strong, it also catches her as she falls out of it. The strategy is easy to comprehend and expressed greatly by the growing tree.



I don’t think one commercial is more effective than the other. They speak to different people and work well together as a rotation. The best part of the campaign to me is they show both sides. They have commercials that show the “dark” side of bad choices and the “bright” side of good choices. I’m also glad they chose to do this in two different commercials. A lot of brands would have tried to put a positive and negative side in one spot, which would have become confusing. Separating the two makes both messages clear and concise.

What do you think about these spots? Do the positive and negative aspects of the two spots work well together?

-Dennis

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Old School Thursday - Dodge Charger Circa 1971

In honor of Chrysler coming out with their new campaign to save the company, I thought with this week's Old School Thursday I would take a look back at an old Chrysler spot. I found this old Charger spot intriguing and may give some insight into why the big three are in the position they are in right now.

The 1971 Charger was a great vehicle. It had sleek lines, a low, powerful stance and an aggressive grille. The car was the epitome of muscle in a muscle era. That is why the strategy of this spot is so confusing to me.

The customer in the commercial is shown a Dodge Charger. He loves the car but is looking for something more family friendly since his wife is expecting. The salesman then spouts off the usual family car line, economy, fuel mileage and room … and promptly shows the gentlemen another Charger. This strategy shows Dodge trying to make every car fit everyone.



Instead of making a muscle car for the people that want a muscle car, and a family car for the people that want a family car they tried to sandwich everyone into their best selling vehicle. This strategy only leads to a water-downed product that disappoints everyone.

The road to where the big three are today was long and winding. There were a lot of factors that went into their demise. But in my opinion, this kind of thinking was the beginning of the end of them.

What do you think about this spot? Is this one of the reasons the big three are where they are now?

-Dennis

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Terminator Salvation and Jeep Team Up

In this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, Terminator Salvation continued its full on assault of the sports world by teaming up with Jeep to create this double truck ad. The strategy behind the ad is solid, but it misses on an opportunity to speak to a stationary audience.



The strategy behind the ad speaks to the ruggedness of the Jeep Rubicon. The Jeep Rubicon is so capable and comfortable that a robot chooses to take it out to its favorite fishing spot. If a machine that is hell bent on taking over the world and eradicating the human race can trust the Jeep Rubicon to get where it needs to go, anyone can. Imagination aside, the Rubicon is shown in the ad to be the exact vehicle you need to get you anywhere you need to go.

While I agree with the strategy behind the ad, I do not agree with the execution. This is a double truck ad, with entirely too much empty space. The robot fishing in the stream could be easily conveyed in the top two thirds of the ad, leaving the bottom third with space to convey some unique selling points of the vehicle. In my opinion when you have a stationary audience, like you do in a magazine, you should take that time to inform that audience of information you can’t fit into a TV or pre roll spot. This space could also be used to tie into the movie more. Having the unique selling points tie into the movie theme would be an entertaining way to convey interesting points for both the movie and the vehicle.

The ad feels like it was built plainly to appeal to both the movie clients and the vehicle clients. By doing that, both clients were shorted on what they could have been given.

What do you think about this print ad? Does it do anything to make you want to see the movie or drive a Jeep?

-Dennis

Monday, May 11, 2009

Baked Lays, The New Gatorade

Baked Lays newest campaign, targeting women is riding the strategy that baked lays will help you get into or stay in shape. On the surface this strategy works. Women trying to trim a few pounds will be drawn to a product that will help them curb their cravings for unhealthy food. Everyone has cheat days. Everyone has cravings. The key to dieting is not totally cutting out the bad food. It’s limiting it to a manageable level, a level that allows you to attain your goals. Lays is trying to position its self as this product, but doesn’t do a very good job in this commercial.



In this commercial Lays shows a woman working out with her trainer. While the trainer goes to get some water, the woman cheats, hide and seek style. She stops working out and upon the return of the trainer, continues counting way ahead of where she actually is. The woman is utterly exhausted and collapses to the floor. Immediately after the woman collapses from exhaustion they show a bowl of baked lays. The voice over then comes in and says, “staying in shape can be deliciously fun”. At this point I’m very confused. Are Baked Lays some type of rehydration product? Will eating a handful of Baked Lays make me feel re-energized? Re-energized enough to finish my work out?

With the way this commercial is cut together Lays is positioning their product as a Gatorade type, re-energizing snack. The last thing I want immediately after working out is a bowl of chips. Baked Lays have 65% less fat than regular potato chips. That’s great. But how does that help you stay in shape. Will the Baked Lays run a mile for you? Or do 50 sits ups for you? No. Baked Lays can’t help you stay in shape.

Lays would be better suited positioning their product as the alternative to full fat snacks for people that are trying to get into or stay in shape. Show a woman in workout clothes at the store. She reaches for a bag of regular chips and has a flash back to her workout she just finished a half hour ago. Then she decides to grab the Baked Lays because they have 65% less fat. Make Baked Lays the snack you choose so you don’t ruin the work out you just finished. The emotional and rational connection would be far more effective this way. Baked Lays just aren’t believable as the product that will help you stay in shape.

What do you think about this commercial? Does the strategy work for you?

-Dennis

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Old School Thursday - Wendy's Fashion Show

On a trip through the You Tube universe this past weekend I stumbled upon this old Wendy’s commercial. This first thing I thought was, wow, that was actually a good spot. I started looking further and found more and more classic commercials, both good and really, really bad. These gems have been collecting dust on the shelves of memories long enough. I am going to start bringing them back to life. Every Thursday I will reveal a different Old School commercial and dissect it like I do with current day spots. If you have any ideas for commercials that have gone the way of the dodo email me at UltimateAccountGuy@gmail.com or send me a tweet @TheAccountGuy.

Now on to this week's Old School commercial.

Amid a sea of cardboard cut out burgers Wendy’s went out on a limb and proclaimed they were the unique burger in the fast food dinning experience. They used timely humor and a straightforward strategy as the platform to display all the options Wendy’s has to offer.



The strategy was perfect for the time. At the time fast food restaurants had very choices and there was almost no customized orders. Before Burg King started delivering burgers “Your Way, Right Away”, you were forced to take what was available. Clearly Wendy’s competitive advantage was the ability to get your burger the way you wanted it. This commercial does a great job of conveying the point that at Wendy’s you get exactly what you want and at other places you don’t.

As the dowdy Russian woman walks out again and again in the same outfit you’re hit with a laugh. Add on top of that a good jab at the hated enemy of the USSR and you get a great commercial that conveys a solid strategy and sticks in the mind of the consumer.

Let me know what you think about this spot? Does it hold up to the test of time?

-Dennis

Monday, May 4, 2009

Gillette Focuses In On Their Current Customers

Gillette has adjusted their strategy recently to capitalize on their current customer base. The newest spot for the Fusion blade has a talking blade telling a gentleman that it’s time to get a new blade. When the lubrication strip (also an indicator strip) turns white. It’s time to throw it out and get a new one.



Everyone learns in Marketing 101 that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers. So the strategy to focus on keeping your current customers instead of going after the competition makes sense. It even makes sense to try to grow the revenue you receive from your current customer base. They are already buying your product. Why not try to get them to buy more?

It seems like a natural evolution until you think about the current situation of the economy. In this economy people aren’t as brand loyal as they usually are. They don’t feel the need to stick with one brand because that is what they always use. So when you tell your consistent customer of 5 years that he should be buying more of your product you run the risk of coming off as greedy. Granted, there is a payoff to ditching your razor (a better shave) when the indicator strip turns white. But when everywhere you look, people are cutting back and hunkering down to ride out this economic downturn, using your razor an extra week seems like the least you can do.

In my opinion, Gillette would be better served to offer some type of reward program if they want to focus on their current customer base. They could make a program where you sign up on their website, enter the skew numbers from your package of Fusion blades and after your 5th or 10th package you get a $5.00 off coupon. Or even a referral program to earn free packages would help to keep and engage your current customers and bring new customers into the fold at the same time.

Right now, it’s harder than ever for companies to keep their customers. Since it is so important to keep the customers you have already earned, they should be working harder and making it worth the customers while to stick around.

What do you think about this strategy? Is it a solid strategy to keep the customers Gillette already has?

-Dennis

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Visa's New Strategy - Security Not Spending

Last month I wrote a post about the new Visa Campaign and how the strategy was miss-directed for the current economy. My view is a this point the consumer isn’t interested in being told there is an easier way to spend their hard earned money. They want to feel safe. They want to know how to save money, how to make their money work harder for them.

So because of this, I was excited to see this new commercial from Visa. It address’ the main problem I had with the previous one. The strategy behind this commercial is safety. You can shop online and know your card information is safe.



In this economy consumers are still skittish about spending money. But if you have to go online and buy a book from Amazon or a pair of shoes from Zappos you have the confidence that your purchase is secure. This commercial makes the consumer feel like Visa is on their side. That Visa cares about their financial security during this tough time. They aren’t just another big bank out to pry more money out of their clenched hands.

One thing I wish had a bigger prominence in the commercial is their website. Visa’s website has an abundance of quality information on their safety features. Why not drive people to your website so they can check out and experience all of the safety features up close and personal. Give the consumer a chance to develop a relationship with the brand.

What do you think about this new commercial compared to the previous one? Does this do a better job of explaining why Visa is the card to use during this time?

-Dennis

Monday, April 27, 2009

Schick Quattro Trim Style In America

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the Schick Quattro Trim Style
European micro site and American print ad
. In that post I wondered if they were going to make an “Americanized” version of the commercial. It turns out they did.

I’m going to leave the discussion on American vs. European commercials for another day. We all know that European commercials are more risqué than their American counter parts. I’m more interested in whether or not this subtler version is as effective as the original.



To answer that question simply, yes, I believe it is as effective as the European version but in a different way. The strategy is the same for both commercials and communicated just as well. The “hedges” are trimmed and formed into the same fashionable shapes without the overt double entendres. The American version is more effective in that they show the product more and show how it can be used. The European version is more effective in that it has comedy on its side. Commercials that make people laugh tend to stick around a little longer in the mind of the consumer.

All in all they are both effective commercials in my mind. It’s interesting to see how Schick took the essence of the European commercial and made it suitable for American TV.

What do you think about these two versions of basically the same commercial? Does not being able to be overtly sexual hurt American companies?

-The Ultimate Account Guy

Friday, April 24, 2009

Subway Blows A Great Opportunity

Subway’s newest commercial features “real” people singing the famous/infamous “5 dollar foot long” song. They sing their own rendition of the song in front of a blue, Subway branded wall. As the spot progresses, a message compelling viewers to visit SubwayFreshBuzz.com comes on screen. Upon watching this commercial and visiting the site, I was thoroughly disappointed in Subway.



The “real” people in the commercial and on the site don’t feel real. Even subway calls the videos “auditions” and that’s exactly what they feel like. It all feels very contrived. If authenticity is what you are looking for, and when you go to user generated content it should be, you need to have an organic feeling to it. At least give me some background information on the “auditions”. Where did they take place? When did they take place? Who are these people? Are they just people pulled off the street? The chorus makes me think there was some type of casting call or at least an announcement that Subway was looking for people to sing.

I think they blew a perfect opportunity to interact with the consumer. Especially since this campaign has been so polarizing. A quick YouTube search brings up dozens of user generated videos of people singing the song in every conceivable situation. Wouldn’t it have been better to use theses videos? Subway could have put out a contest where consumers send in their own rendition of the subway song. Give away a first, second and third place prize as a way of enticing entries if you think you wouldn’t get enough user generated content.

What do you think about this commercial and the accompanying site? How could they have made it better?

-The Ultimate Account Guy

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gatorade Goes Animated With Tiger

Gatorade has always been good for a couple impressive commercials every year. From the days of wanting to “be like Mike” to now they’ve been able to keep the attention of the consumer while staying true to their strategy. This is why I was shocked to see an animated commercial from Gatorade. They’ve used CG in the past but, to my recollection, they’ve never gone fully animated.

In the commercial Little Tiger is coached by a wise talking bear. After making a bad shot, the bear gives him some words of wisdom, Little Tiger drinks from a fountain of Gatorade Focus and he’s able to pull off his patented ball-juggling trick.



The strategy is solid, easy to understand and conveyed well by the spot and because of that I like the commercial. You get it. Gatorade keeps you hydrated, which helps you focus and perform better.

The part that confuses me a little is the decision to go with full animation. I have nothing against animation. I think it can be used very effectively. I just think it is an odd choice for Gatorade to use for its Tiger Focus brand. Especially since they didn’t use the animation to do anything extraordinary. There are talking animals, but that can be done with CG or even animatronics.
One reason I can think to use animation is because they couldn’t get Tiger for a shoot. With his knee injury and rehab, were they not able to get him? Seems like a stretch, but maybe that was the reason to go with animation this time.

Either way it’s an interesting commercial that speaks to the consumer in an effective manner.

What do you think about this commercial? What do you think the reason for choosing animation was?

-The Ultimate Account Guy

Just for kicks “Be Like Mike”

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sprite - Slam And A Miss

Sprite has continued its love affair with the NBA during the playoffs. Watching any one of the NBA games this weekend you would have seen this Sprite commercial dubbed “Slam”.



The strategy is the same as usual. Sprite is refreshing and quenches your thirst. The way the commercial conveys that main idea disappoints me. Having people in the spot jump into each other and combust into a spray of Sprite doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t convey a sense of refreshment and enjoyment to me. Why do they have to jump into each other to receive the benefit of the drink? Is the drink painful at first, then the refreshment washes over you?

On the other hand the Sprite commercial below does a very good job of conveying the main idea. Again, Sprite is saying their product is refreshing and will quench your thirst. To do that they have the people in the commercial jump into a basketball court that morphs into a pool. This makes me feel like Sprite is refreshing. I can picture myself standing on that blistering hot basketball court, taking a sip of a cold Sprite and being transported into a refreshing, cool, pool. We all have memories of being at the beach or a pool on a hot summer day, and how nice and refreshing it felt to jump into the water. This spot does exactly that.



What do you think about these spots? Do you think they both convey Sprite’s main idea well?

-The Ultimate Account Guy

Monday, April 20, 2009

State Farm + Lebron = Good Commercial

If you’ve watched an NBA game over the past couple of months you’ve most likely seen the Lebron James State Farm commercial. This is an all around solid commercial. It has an easy to understand strategy, a famous face, a little comedy and most importantly in my eyes it is easy to relate to.



The strategy behind the spot is simple and sound. Most people don’t understand insurance. They don’t really know what is in their coverage and what isn’t. But with State Farm, you don’t have to worry because you’re covered.

Having Lebron James in the commercial lends a memorable face. The “Kid and Play” dance session between James and one of the friends gives the otherwise serious commercial a moment of levity. These features combine to make a memorable and effective commercial.

What puts it above and beyond in my eyes is the selection of the friends. State Farm could have chosen to use three players from the Cavaliers or just two other famous NBA players. Instead they chose to go with Lebron James and two “regular” people. I think this was a great choice. It allows the consumer at home to relate with the “regular” person who had his car broken into. If it was James’ car that was vandalized, you would expect him to be covered because he has millions of dollars and can afford top coverage. Having the “regular” person’s car broken into allows the consumer to feel like they could be in that position. It allows the consumer at home to feel like calling State Farm is a good idea to make sure they are covered.

What do you think about this spot? Does it speak to the consumer effectively in your eyes?

-The Account Guy

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pampers' 1 Pack = 1 Vaccine Campaign

Pampers’ newest commercial is spotlighting their “1 pack = 1 vaccine” campaign. The spot features a woman and her baby, as well as all the babies she helped get vaccinated by buying Pampers diapers.

The strategy behind the program and the spot is very simple. Buy a pack of pampers and an underprivileged child will receive a vaccination. The commercial does a great job of conveying the main idea by showing all of the smiling, healthy children hugging the woman and thanking her for, in effect, buying Pampers.



I think this program and commercial will be effective because it doesn’t ask you to change any habits. The commercial doesn’t ask you to fill out a post card on the package to donate a vaccine. It doesn’t ask you to go to a website to donate money. All you have to do is buy a pack of Pampers.

If you have a newborn baby at home, you are already buying diapers, you might as well buy Pampers and help an underprivileged child at the same time. Even if you normally buy a different brand or find Pampers more expensive, you may be tempted to ignore your brand loyalty or price sensitivity because it is such a worthy cause. Especially when all you have to do is buy Pampers.

What do you think about this program? Will it be effective? Is this commercial an effective vehicle for the program?

-The Ultimate Account Guy

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mow The Lawn ... Now In Print Form

I’m guessing that over the last week you’ve seen the musical “lawn mowing” video by Wilkinson Sword. The minute long musical, along with the micro site has made its way around the Internet more for its unique musical topic than the product it’s selling.

As an American advertising professional, I’m always impressed by this type of advertising; advertising that pushes the boundaries on taboo subjects. I wondered to myself if something like this would fly in the states.

Then this weekend while flipping through my guilty pleasure, US Weekly, I found this print ad for the Schick Quattro Trim Style. I’m not sure of the association between Schick and Wilkinson Sword but there must be some as they are both selling a product called the “Quattro”.

The ad does a great job of drawing from the video. It uses the same shapes seen the video and the same statue. The message is simple and easy to take away. The ad placement couldn’t be any better. Aside from me, US Weekly, has a predominantly female following and is the perfect age range for this type of product.

The print ad seemed like a smash until I thought about the American consumer who is reading this magazine. Have they seen the accompanying video to this print ad? I know it was popular last week in the advertising world, but did it make its way into the general American public?

I tried to look at it from the perspective of someone who hadn’t seen the video or micro site. It’s still interesting. It still grabs my attention, but the song doesn’t start playing in my head. I think the lack of tie in to the video takes away from the consumer’s experience. It makes the print ad and the product less memorable.

I don’t know if Schick has any plans of releasing the video in the US. I just hope, they don’t come up with some contrived version that takes all the fun and humor out.

What do you think about the video/site and the print ad? Does the print ad lose effectiveness without seeing the video?

-The Ultimate Account Guy